A professor blogs about the "kind of relationship the teacher is supposed to have with the students" and presents her viewpoint as follows:
The contract language is an attempt to change the focus from identity to the work itself. We may incidentally like each other or be annoyed by each other, but this is just the nature of being human. You work with people you wouldn’t be friends with sometimes.
The same question arises in other types of workplaces too, indeed anywhere people spend a lot of time together. How do you treat colleagues much older or younger than you, or even own age?
A contracts approach is the logical one. It keeps the interactions Adult - Adult, which is highly functional. Yet, over a long period, most of us cannot sustain such interactions. Because, human beings need to relate to others as human beings.
Furthermore, teachers, and often managers too, need to exert a good bit of influence that may not be possible in interactions modelled around contracts.
Think To Sir, With Love.
To understand To Sir, With Love, do read the AWB's wonderful response on her blog. An excerpt:
For example, one of the rules of the class is that they will not complain about their grades for 24 hours after receiving a marked paper. Why? Because I have written loving things on them. I have spent hours and hours tending to each of their needs, as I am able, looking for every shred of thought, humanity, understanding, and skill that I can, and written encouragements to find more. To flip back to the number of the grade and whine about it is a breach of our contract.